Kidney Disease overview
Chronic kidney disease, sometimes known as chronic kidney failure, is a condition that progressively decreases the kidney’s ability to function. In a healthy person, the kidneys filter waste and other fluids from the blood to be excreted in the urine. However, those with kidney disease lose the ability to properly filter waste material, which leads to dangerous levels of various substances building up.
In the early stages of kidney disease, most people experience very few or no symptoms at all. This means that for many, they won’t even know they have a problem until it’s reached a relatively severe point.
Treatment plans for kidney disease typically revolve around slowing the progression of the condition. This primarily means limiting damage to the kidneys by controlling substance intake. When kidney disease reaches a critical point, known as end-stage kidney failure, it becomes fatal without regular dialysis or a transplant.
Signs of kidney disease tend to develop slowly, and thanks to the ability of kidneys to adapt, most people won’t notice anything until severe damage has already occurred. These symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, trouble sleeping, cramps, and high blood pressure. Another thing that makes kidney disease tough to diagnose at first is the fact its symptoms are usually nonspecific.
The exact causes behind kidney disease aren’t currently understood. However, researchers know quite a bit about conditions and illnesses that are known to lead to kidney disease. These include both type 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure. That said, other conditions such as inflammation of the kidney, polycystic kidney disease, prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract, recurrent kidney infection, and more can all result in chronic kidney disease.
The primary risk factors of kidney disease, outside of the listed conditions, include being a smoker or being obese. Kidney disease is also known to affect more people of African, Native American, or Asian descent than other backgrounds. Family history and older age are two more common risk factors that may raise your chances of developing this disorder.
According to reports, kidney disease affects around 37 million people across the US or about 15% of the adult population. Estimates suggest 1 in 3 people are at risk of developing kidney disease at some point. What’s worse, approximately 90% of those with the disorder aren’t currently aware of it.
If you think that you or a loved one could be dealing with kidney disease, it’s vital to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Only they can accurately diagnose conditions such as kidney disease, and set you on the path to managing your symptoms.